Kids Web Japan

Web Japan > Kids Web Japan > FAQ > Culture: Sports


Culture: Sports

  • When did sumo start?
    Sumo is said to have started over 2,000 years ago. From around the Heian period (794-1192), the imperial family often watched sumo as a form of entertainment. Sumo evolved over many centuries, with the first professional sumo wrestlers appearing in the Edo period (1603-1868). Because of this long history, sumo is considered Japan's national sport.

  • Who is the best sumo wrestler today?
    Right now there are three wrestlers at the top rank of yokozuna: Hawaiian-born Akebono and brothers Wakanohana and Takanohana. For more information on the history of sumo check out our Monthly News articles on youth sumo.

  • How heavy are sumo wrestlers?
    Many wrestlers weigh as much as 150 kilograms (330 pounds). In order to become this big, the average sumo wrestler eats up to 20,000 calories per day - about 10 times what an average adult needs!

  • How do sumo wrestlers get so heavy?
    Believe it or not, sumo wrestlers have to obey a strict diet to reach the right physical condition for wrestling. Their main meal every day is brunch, eaten at about 11:30 in the morning. They eat a special dish called chanko nabe, meaning "mixed pot," a high-calorie stew made from seaweed stock and containing chicken, fish, prawns, tofu, beansprouts, cabbage, onions, and other vegetables. Senior wrestlers often eat several bowls of chanko nabe and several bowls of rice at each sitting.

  • Why is sumo Japan's national sport? Has anyone chosen it to be such?
    Sumo isn't an official national sport of Japan, but it's the country's oldest sport - over 1,500 years old! - and is considered by many to be the national sport. Though its popularity has been going down a bit in the past few years, it has been entertaining the Japanese public since around the Edo period (1603-1868); before then it was done mainly for ceremonial purposes.

  • Are some people excluded from sumo wrestling?
    Currently only men can become professional sumo wrestlers. Every wrestler belongs to one of the more than 50 sumo stables, and to be eligible for entry into a stable, candidates must be at least 173 centimeters (about 5 feet 8 inches) tall, weigh at least 75 kilograms (165 pounds), and be under 23 years old (or between 20 and 25 years, if one has performed fairly well in college- or adult-level amateur tournaments).

  • What is the difference between aikido and karate?
    This Website, Aikido vs. Karate, compares the two martial arts in detail.

  • What are the most popular sports in Japan?
    Our Sports section is the place to look!

  • Are there any good soccer players in Japan?
    Recently soccer has become very popular in Japan, and more and more young Japanese are playing soccer at school and with local clubs. Japan's most famous soccer player is Hidetoshi Nakata, a midfielder who plays for Parma in Italy. He is one of the biggest sports stars in Japan and is also very popular in Italy. Other stars include Shoji Jo, Hiroshi Nanami, and Shinji Ono.

  • Could we have some information on the Japanese team going to the 2000 Sydney Olympics?
    There will be 260 Japanese athletes competing at the Sydney Olympics. Among those hotly tipped for medals are the judoka, including Ryoko Tamura. She has won four consecutive world championships. Japan also has a good chance of gold in the women's marathon, with Naoko Takahashi leading a strong trio of runners. Japan's baseball team will be vying for a medal with the help of some pro players, including superstar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Hopes are also high that the young Japanese soccer team will perform well. More on Japan's olympians can be found at our sister site Trends in Japan.

  • Can you tell me something about the ancient sport of "dakyu"?
    The sport of dakyu (Japanese polo) has been played in Japan for at least 1,000 years. Like polo, it is played on horseback. Two teams use sticks with small nets at the end to throw a ball around the field. The aim is to get the ball into the other team's goal (a small hole in a wooden wall).